3 questions to smart minds

Great opportunities in smaller SMEs

For this 3 questions to Franz Reiffenstuel

Photo: Franz Reiffenstuel
29. May 2024

SMEs are the foun­da­tion of the German economy. A number of sectors in the smal­ler SME sector, such as the skil­led trades, still offer a lot of poten­tial for digi­ta­liza­tion and cons­truc­tive conso­li­da­tion. The German office of Adelis is commit­ted to these niches with a focus on 3 core sectors: Busi­ness Services, Tech & Soft­ware and Health­care & Life Sciences.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Franz Reif­fen­stuel, respon­si­ble for the DACH region at the Adelis office in Munich

1. Adelis is a Scan­di­na­vian inves­tor. You have had a German office for six months now. What is your focus?

We are a growth part­ner for smal­ler SMEs. We are usually the first inves­tor to show local entre­pre­neurs a perspec­tive on how to successfully trans­fer the busi­ness to the next gene­ra­tion while retai­ning the corpo­rate culture and making it fit for the future. In one of our core Busi­ness Services sectors, for exam­ple, we have brought toge­ther nume­rous trade busi­nesses in all Scan­di­na­vian count­ries to form a strong network with a natio­nal presence and support the local sites with profes­sio­nal services in areas such as recrui­ting, marke­ting, purcha­sing, invoi­cing and financing.

Since our foun­da­tion 10 years ago, we have comple­ted 40 plat­form invest­ments, for which we have made more than 200 acqui­si­ti­ons. We curr­ently manage appro­xi­m­ately €3 billion across 5 fund gene­ra­ti­ons. Our latest fund has a volume of €930m, but we start a part­ner­ship from €15m of equity, mostly to support SMEs in a conso­li­da­tion strategy.

2. Around 5 years ago, you inves­ted in Hand­verks­data, an ERP soft­ware for the skil­led trades, and have quin­tu­pled your turno­ver by 2023. What factors played a role here?

When we joined, Hand­verks­data was a Swedish company with the claim “to make the ever­y­day office life of craft­smen easier in the long term.” The manage­ment team and the sellers have reinves­ted 46% of the shares and opted for Adelis as a growth inves­tor. We have inves­ted in the product range, trans­fer­red the soft­ware to the cloud and increased the number of soft­ware deve­lo­pers from 30 to 100 by the end of 2023. In addi­tion, the Group’s presence was expan­ded with suita­ble acqui­si­ti­ons in all Scan­di­na­vian count­ries and the market entry in Germany was carried out.

The Group’s growth poten­tial remains very high in the long term, as the skil­led crafts sector is still often orga­ni­zed manu­ally and has not yet come into cont­act with ERP systems. Digi­ta­liza­tion through Hand­verks­data will simplify commer­cial tasks for users, provide a better project over­view and gene­rate major effi­ci­ency benefits.

The inter­na­tio­na­liza­tion of the Group will also conti­nue. For this purpose and for the acqui­si­tion of the comple­men­tary company Next, we took on the inves­tor EQT as an addi­tio­nal share­hol­der in the Group at the begin­ning of 2024 and re-inves­ted in a mino­rity stake by means of a conti­nua­tion fund so that we can remain a part­ner for Hand­verks­data in the coming years.

3. What do you and Adelis want to achieve in Germany?

We conti­nue to focus on the market niches of our 3 core sectors in which Adelis has alre­ady successfully gained expe­ri­ence. — In the tech & soft­ware sector, we are convin­ced that AI appli­ca­ti­ons and incre­asing auto­ma­tion can also achieve major effi­ci­ency gains in many indus­tries in Germany. This is demons­tra­ted by our port­fo­lio compa­nies Pixelz (photo editing for e‑commerce) and Diakrit (real estate tech­no­logy and solutions).

If you are well versed in the cons­truc­tion indus­try, you can achieve a lot with the right struc­ture by forming a group — and also deal better with the incre­asing shortage of skil­led workers through more inno­va­tive recrui­ting options.

Our third sector, Health­care & Life Scien­ces, is charac­te­ri­zed by a struc­tu­ral long-term growth trend in which we focus on attrac­tive niches such as phar­maceu­ti­cal suppli­ers, medi­cal tech­no­logy compa­nies and life science tools manu­fac­tu­r­ers. Our port­fo­lio compa­nies Europa Biosite and SSI Diagno­stica are also active in this area.

About Franz Reiffenstuel: 

Franz Reif­fen­stuel is a part­ner at Adelis Equity Part­ners and is respon­si­ble for invest­ments in the German-spea­king region. He has been active in the private equity indus­try since 2009, consis­t­ently with a focus on growth invest­ments and part­ner­ships with entre­pre­neurs. Prior to Adelis, he worked at DPE, Chequers and Citi, among others.

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